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THE official handle of Digital India, a flagship government initiative for a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy, on Thursday tweeted a poem promoting the killing of Kashmiris by the Army. The tweet, which was soon deleted, included the screenshot of a poem posted on Facebook that it labelled “Heights of #Patriotism..!!!”
Managed by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Digital India has more than 5.34 lakh followers on Twitter.
The poem, written to the lyrics of a popular Bollywood song, asked the Army not to stop firing on people till they come to the city square and sing the national anthem. It read, “Issued in public interest; all who love their lives; should quietly come to the city square; sing the national anthem; and not throw any tantrums here.”
The tweet was highlighted by Aam Aadmi Party’s senior leader Ankit Lal. Posting screenshots of the tweet, Lal wrote, “Govt verified handle @_DigitalIndia finds poem calling fr mass murder of Kashmiris ‘Height of Patriotism’.”
— Ankit Lal (@AnkitLal) September 8, 2016
When contacted, Electronics and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said he “immediately sought a report” when the tweet was brought to his notice. The person who tweeted the poem has been suspended, he said.
Calling the act “mischievous”, Prasad said, “The contents of the tweet don’t represent the views of the IT ministry, Digital India or the government of India. I regret the tweet.”
S Radha Chauhan, CEO of National e-Governance Division, which leads the Digital India project, said the management of the official Twitter handle has been outsourced to an organisation called Trivone. The person responsible had mistakenly tweeted from the official handle what he wanted to tweet from his personal account, Chauhan told The Indian Express. The person has apologised for it in writing, he said.
One of the passages in the poem said, “The bullets have just started, don’t say later you didn’t get a warning, you will have to say Vande Mantaram every morning.” Another read “Thrash them all you want, army; break their bones; If Mehbooba calls the police; Modi will handle it.”
The tweet follows at least two similar incidents recently. A week ago, All India Radio’s official handle had tweeted about Rahul Gandhi, asking, “How he became daring again to defame #RSS?” Rahul had earlier withdrawn his plea in the Supreme Court seeking to quash the defamation case filed against him for holding the RSS responsible for Mahatma Gandhi’s murder.
The tweet, asking him to “stick to comments”, was deleted on the direction of the director general of news at AIR, Sitanshu Kar, because it didn’t conform to the editorial standards of the national broadcaster. Kar said one of the four people who manage the Twitter account had posted it.
In late July, the Twitter account for Startup India, another key government initiative, retweeted two tweets targeting journalists and Pakistan. The account retracted the retweets later, with Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman blaming it on an external agency that was hired to tweet for the project.
“The unauthorised re-tweets were done by one employee of the agency duly hired by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion through a tendering process. The person assigned by the agency for this particular job is not decided by the department and is the sole prerogative of the agency,” she had said.